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  • Suicide Is Never the Result of a Single Event

    The World Health Organization says 800,000 people die by suicide, and many are teens.
    by Kate Borbon .
Suicide Is Never the Result of a Single Event
PHOTO BY iStock
  • Recent years have seen an alarming increase in suicide rates among teenagers and young adults in different parts of Asia.

    According to the World Health Organization, suicide is the second leading cause of death among those between 15 and 29 years old worldwide, killing nearly 800,000 people each year. In 2016, suicide accounted for 1.4% of all deaths around the world.

    In Asia, the number of young people taking their lives has been mounting. Nikkei Asian Review reports 397 suicide cases were reported in Singapore in 2018, according to data released by the suicide prevention agency Samaritans of Singapore in July 2019. Boys between 10 and 19 years old were especially at risk.

    In 2018, Japan had 599 suicide cases, and it involved people ages 19 years old and below. The rate for the 10- to 19-year-old age group reached 5.3% — the highest rate of suicide among this age group in Japan in 40 years.

    In the Philippines, the Department of Health reported in a January 2019 statement that suicide rates are at 2.5 in males and 1.7 in females per 100,000 people. In 2016, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported that 46% of total suicide cases in the country are among the youth with 16% being among teenagers between 10 and 19 years old.

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    Causes of teenage suicide

    WHO says it is essential to note that suicide is never the result of a single event — “the factors that lead to suicide are usually multiple and complex.”

    In a previous article on SmartParenting.com.ph, child, adolescent, and adult psychiatrist Dr. Cornelio G. Banaag, Jr., says stress may be a key factor to consider although the reasons young people are harming themselves are hard to pinpoint.

    This stress can stem from different things. One is school pressure, especially for high school students. “The stress they have to go through is probably not the kind of stress that [other] generations have gone through,” Dr. Banaag says. “The academic demands have become relentless and constantly requiring high level of stress.”

    According to the World Population Review, the pressure to achieve academic success is one factor in suicide cases in South Korea. “When they do not achieve the goals that their parents have set for them, they may feel that they have dishonored their families and commit suicide,” the organization writes.

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    Wong Lai Chun, senior assistant director of Samaritans of Singapore, tells the Nikkei Asian Review that the “relentless pursuit of perfection in today’s society” may be another factor.

    “With the pressure to achieve and meet higher expectations, some may choose to put on a façade that they are coping well to avoid being viewed as weak,” says Wong.

    Exposure to social media can trigger that sense of envy and unhappiness. “They will see nice posts by their peers; of course, you’ll post only what is nice, you know? And they get envious, they feel depressed, they feel anxious, [they think], ‘Why am I like this?’ even if they know maybe this is just part of the picture,” explains Dr. Banaag.

    According to a fact sheet by the WHO, there is a well-established link between suicide and mental disorders like depression and anxiety, and impulsiveness plays an important role.

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    WHO says, “While the link between suicide and mental disorders (in particular, depression and alcohol use disorders) is well established, many suicides happen impulsively in moments of crisis. Further risk factors include experience of loss, loneliness, discrimination, a relationship break-up, financial problems, chronic pain and illness, violence, abuse, and conflict or other humanitarian emergencies. The strongest risk factor for suicide is a previous suicide attempt.”  

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    How to help

    Dr. Banaag emphasizes the importance of seeking help from medical professionals if you think your child might be prone to self-harm. “There are counselors, psychologists, psychiatrists. Tell your child that maybe [the two of you] should talk to them. Pag ayaw, you can put your foot down as a parent and say, ‘Look, at this point kailangan na natin talaga. Kahit once lang, mag-usap kayo.’”

    Another important reminder Dr. Banaag seeks to tell parents: Don’t lose the bond you have with your child. Parents can help their kids develop skills to cope with life’s pressures. In another Smart Parenting article, he says, “Whatever else happens, you must never lose the line of connection with your children, no matter how busy you are.” At the end of the day, this can help your child understand that you are there for him and that it is okay to ask for help.

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    Don't be afraid to reach out if you are feeling anxious, helpless, or depressed. If you need someone to talk to: 

    The symptoms of teenage depression can be hard to detect. Click here to read why.

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